Scott Stratten, "un-marketing" industry innovator and best-selling author
Scott Stratten, "un-marketing" industry innovator and best-selling author

‘REACH’ Wednesday Morning: Scott Stratten and Fintech Panel

The final morning of “REACH” brought attendees of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ annual convention face to face with Scott Stratten—a marketing industry innovator and author who forces people to refocus on what matters most, and helps see through a new lens with unconventional "unmarketing" views.

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“Branding is whatever you as a consumer think is right—it’s simply your own impression of something,” Stratten said. “Then it’s up to marketers and corporations to either prove that judgement or disprove it.”

He encouraged credit union leaders to look at their frontline staff differently, with a new perspective on how their thoughts, feelings and ideas could transform members’ lives in “simple” ways. Oftentimes employees don’t work best when they think they don’t matter, and when they don’t know they have a brand responsibility. In reality, they write the brand storyline—not the marketers.

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Josh Linkner, Founding Partner of Detroit Venture Partners and Chairman/Co-founder of Fuel Leadership and the Institute for Applied Creativity
Josh Linkner, Founding Partner of Detroit Venture Partners and Chairman/Co-founder of Fuel Leadership and the Institute for Applied Creativity

‘REACH’ Tuesday Afternoon: Josh Linkner and Rick Metsger

Attendees of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ Tuesday afternoon general session during the REACH 2017 annual convention were in for a surprise when Josh Linkner spoke on “everyday innovation”—an idea that’s more readily available to credit unions than some may think.

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“In your credit unions, you oftentimes either win or lose in business,” he said. “But it’s those little tie-breaker situations—that little ladder of creativity—that can make all the difference in the world.”

Linkner personifies creativity, entrepreneurship, and disruptive innovation. He founded and served as CEO of five tech companies, as well as authored two New York Times bestsellers. He’s also the founding partner of Detroit Venture Partners, investing in and mentoring more than 100 startups.

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PAC award winners on stage during the second day of the "REACH 2017" annual convention.
PAC award winners on stage during the second day of the "REACH 2017" annual convention.

Shining Stars in CU Advocacy at ‘REACH’

During this year’s REACH convention, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues recognized just a few of the shining stars who work in close partnership with the Leagues and the entire movement all year to make sure credit unions achieve victories in Sacramento, Carson City, and Washington, D.C.

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This past year the Leagues stayed busy organizing many district meetings at home with elected officials throughout California and Nevada—a crucial relationship-building tool. The Leagues also worked with each of the following leaders, as well as several other credit unions across both states, to achieve one goal: Securing the powers needed to successfully serve credit union members.

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Sasha Strauss, Founder of Innovation Protocol and Adjunct Graduate Professor at UCLA, UC Irvine, and USC
Sasha Strauss, Founder of Innovation Protocol and Adjunct Graduate Professor at UCLA, UC Irvine, and USC

‘REACH’ 2nd Morning: Sasha Strauss, Special Guests, and REACHtalks

Sasha Strauss’s words hung heavy on the minds of attendees during the REACH 2017 annual convention’s Tuesday morning general session, where he drove home the idea of how brands can fill the void inside consumers.

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“People are skeptical about religions, corporations, institutions and governments—they were all built for a time before the internet and social media,” he said. “You have to give humans something to believe in.”

Through his delivery, Strauss brought two decades of experience in brand strategy and development for corporations, nonprofit organizations, philanthropies, and universities to attendees, all with a unique and proven perspective on how brands should be built and communicated.

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Meta-art and destructive creation artist Phil Hansen kicked off the REACH 2017 convention.
Meta-art and destructive creation artist Phil Hansen kicked off the REACH 2017 convention.

REACH Kicks Off: ‘Destructive Creation’ Helps CUs View World Differently; and Chairman McWatters

Widely known for his meta-art and destructive creation, Phil Hansen kicked off the REACH 2017 convention by giving attendees a taste of what it’s like to achieve limitlessness by having a limitation.

The so-called “artist for the people” shared how permanent nerve damage in his hands and arms changed his life perspective about how he approached his trade. “When I embraced the shake, I found a different art I could make,” he said. “It was ‘pointalism.’ You see the dots close up, but far away you realize a completely different image.”

Hansen went from having a single approach to art to embracing the fact that a limitation can actually drive creativity. “By not creating my own limitation, I was able to create ultimate liberation,” he said.

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L-R: Xceed Financial FCU CEO Teresa Freeborn (left)—who was recognized with the Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award—with California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra
L-R: Xceed Financial FCU CEO Teresa Freeborn (left)—who was recognized with the Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award—with California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra

Leo Shapiro Awardee and Others Recognized at ‘REACH’

Teresa Freeborn, CEO of Xceed Financial CU in El Segundo, CA was recognized with the Leo H. Shapiro Lifetime Achievement Award on stage—the California Credit Union League’s highest honor recognizing excellence in credit union philosophy and a lifetime of contributions to the California credit union movement.

Freeborn said she was humbled and honored, describing her “amazing” journey in the credit union industry, as well as touting her dedicated staff for all they have done to support her efforts in the movement.

The award is named after Leo H. Shapiro, father of the California credit union movement and founder of the League. Freeborn is being recognized for her more than 40 years of service, including serving as president and CEO of Xceed Financial since 2006, and for being such a strong advocate of the credit union movement.

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The California Credit Union League Board of Directors.
The California Credit Union League Board of Directors.

Boards Look Back, and Ahead, at League Business Meetings

Leaders from the boards of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues thanked fellow colleagues in the movement for their unwavering support during another year in which credit unions displayed their unique “member owned” model to the world around them.

There’s been no shortage of opportunities and challenges across both states as 2017 transpired—from economic issues to disruptive ways of new thinking, as well legislative advocacy and regulatory awareness. Financial education also remains top-of-mind for many credit unions as they continually aspire to engage members and new consumers of all ages how to navigate life and prosper, and so does “fintech” banking innovations.

The majority of credit unions in California and Nevada have remained steadfast in their support of the Leagues and the ongoing mission to help the industry change its members’ lives.

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Dr. James D. Likens
Dr. James D. Likens

‘Head and Heart’ Memoir Launched at REACH 2017

“Head and heart” may be a profound phrase embodying the ideals of Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) alumni and students, but Dr. James D. Likens has actually lived-out this statement for decades and recorded his insights in a new memoir.

He launched it during the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues “REACH 2017” annual convention in Palm Desert, CA. “Head and Heart: My Life in Credit Unions” is full of leadership insights, key historical credit union stories and facts, and special recognitions to six other professionals from the mind of a leading Pomona College economics scholar who joined WCMS in 1972 and recently retired in 2016.

“It was a very different world when I started,” Likens said before joining a WCMS Alumni Association luncheon where he was scheduled to speak to colleagues, former students, and credit union leaders. “Credit unions were small, not complex. Then the world changed.”

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L-R: Amistad High School students Cheyenne Chapa, 16, and Angelina Moran, 16, learn about budgeting and making real-life financial choices at the “Bite of Reality” event before the REACH 2017 annual convention.
L-R: Amistad High School students Cheyenne Chapa, 16, and Angelina Moran, 16, learn about budgeting and making real-life financial choices at the “Bite of Reality” event before the REACH 2017 annual convention.

School Kids Get a ‘Bite of Reality’ Before ‘REACH’

Students from Amistad High School got a “bite of reality” when they attended an interactive financial education simulation designed to teach them how to manage money in the morning hours before the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ “REACH 2017” convention kicked off later on Monday afternoon.

The Nov. 6 event at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert, CA school was offered by the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation (RMJ Foundation), the state foundation for credit unions in California and Nevada. Representatives from various credit unions volunteered their time to serve as “merchants” for the event.

The Bite of Reality event aims to teach young people the basics of finance by having them take a “real world” test drive complete with a job, money, and the freedom to make their own financial decisions. The 60 students were given a persona complete with occupation, salary, spouse and family, student loan debt, credit card debt, and medical insurance payments.

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